General Motors Company’s [NYSE:GM] Australian division Holden will cease production for good at the end of 2017 at which point the company will exclusively offer imported vehicles from other GM brands. There was a mission on to save Holden’s plant in the state of South Australia but we’ve learned today that the mission will not proceed any further.
Punch Corporation, led by Belgian entrepreneur Guido Dumarey, had hoped to acquire the plant and the rights to GM’s rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform which underpins the Holden Commodore and a handful of derivative models. The Commodore in high-performance guise is sold here as the Chevrolet SS.
Punch’s plan was to modernize the Zeta platform and build a range of luxury and performance sedans as well as light commericals to be sold globally. Punch had previously acquired a transmission plant from GM that was earmarked for closure, revitalizing it and using it to build transmissions for Germany’s ZF, some of which are supplied back to GM.
However, after a round of negotiations between GM and Punch, it appears both parties have determined that there was no viable business case in saving the Holden plant.
“Both parties concluded that a viable business model was not possible for this case,” GM said in a statement. “Therefore the proposal will not be taken forward.”
Due to a non-disclosure agreement, GM couldn’t reveal specifics about the plan. However, the automaker did point out its own reasons for ending production in Australia which it said persist and cannot be overcome for Punch’s plan. They include a lack of scale, high production costs and supply base contraction. The latter is mostly due to rival automakers Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] and Toyota also ending production in Australia in the near future.
GM said it will continue to consider Punch, along with other interested parties, to participate in the sale process of the Holden plant and assets after GM ceases local production. The plant was also building the previous-generation Cruze, though production of the compact car came to an end today. Production of Zeta-based cars is currently slated to end in November 2017. It means there won’t be a Chevy SS anymore as sadly we hear there aren’t any plans for a successor. As for the next Commodore, it's likely to be a version of Opel's next-generation Insignia.